It’s first period on a Wednesday at AHS. Most students are in class, many have iced coffees leaking condensation on their papers, and almost all are complaining about the warm weather that, just last week, they were yearning for. However, not all classrooms are full. By walking through the halls, one can tell why. Under the harsh fluorescent lights, students in pairs, and sometimes groups, wander through the halls. Some are laughing, some scrolling on their phones, some just talking about classes and sports. They display no remorse about the missed class time. There is only one thing that seems to make their confidence waver: hall monitors.
According to hall monitor Sharon White, monitors’ responsibilities include taking care of the front desk, visitors, and tardies. “We have to do all the floors, the first, the second, the third, [and] the Collins Center,” she explained.
Vice Principal Darlington said, “We want to make sure that students are behaving themselves, that if they’re out, they’re out for a good reason and that they have a pass.” This job description seems reasonable, so how did the monitors’ reputation run so awry?
“People call them the ‘hall monsters,’” sophomore Julia Toomey said. She was sitting in the cafeteria chatting at a long table while people wandered in and out, grabbing a coffee or muffin to eat during first period. Her friends nodded in agreement. “They are kind of bitter. They don’t seem concerned with our safety, they’re kind of just trying to get us in trouble a lot of the time.”
Many of her classmates echoed this sentiment. Sophomore Delaney Powell added, “Sometimes we could be going to guidance or something, but they don’t care because you’re in the hall.”
Many students think hall monitors’ sole role is to keep kids from lapping. For those who aren’t part of the AHS community and therefore may not know, lapping is a phenomenon where a student will take a teacher’s one bathroom pass and walk around the school. Students text their friends in other classes to meet up with them. This does not only provoke teachers but aggravates students who now have no way out of class due to an absent pass.
When Libby Pustis, a player on the varsity lacrosse team, was asked to share her thoughts on the hall monitors ,she said, “Sometimes they take it too far and it’s not like we are doing anything bad. Sometimes we just need to get out of our class and lap and they yell at us for not having a pass. Kind of annoying. I have mixed opinions.” She added that it is an unnecessary distraction to the class when a kid is brought back by a hall monitor because they were roaming the halls.
Sophomore Anuraag Nagaraja said, “I think it’s kind of pointless. It’s not going to really stop anything.”
However, stopping students from wandering through the halls is not the primary responsibility of hall monitors. Hall monitor Aida Vargas said, “Our role is to make sure you guys are safe [and] also make sure that nothing illegal is being done in school. We are mainly here for your safety and make the school safer for everybody.”
Vice Principal Darlington said, “We just want to make sure that our building’s safe from a health perspective, like if anyone needs to get to the clinic.”
Darlington also addressed school security: “The other part is we want them checking external doors to make sure none have been left open and, if they see anyone that doesn’t look like they belong here, to let the office know.”
According to media reports, many more schools today are opting to hire hall monitors after a rise in school shootings. They are seen as less intimidating, as well as cheaper for school systems than armed security guards, whose presence in schools is also on the rise, according to US News. The average yearly salary of a hall monitor is $31,073, compared to $40,120 for a security officer, according to Recruiter.com.
AHS previously used teachers to execute the job of hall monitors. Now there are ten hall monitors at AHS, one more than last year. At any given time, there are four to five on duty. Mr. Darlington said that the school probably needs one or two more because of its size and population.
Although safety is her primary concern, Vargas said warmly, “I try to say good morning, good afternoon and always ask, you know, if they are having a good day or a bad day, so I make sure I interact with them every morning when I see them.” When asked if students get upset when she catches them without a pass, Vargas said, “No, they usually see that I’m trying to make sure that they are not getting in trouble for something that they could have prevented. So what I do is walk them to class to make sure they don’t get in trouble for walking around without a pass.” This contradicts the common belief that hall monitors are out to get students in trouble.
While the students have abundant comments about the hall monitors, few of them are able to recall them by name. While telling stories about them, they are referred to as, “the really tall guy” or “the one with the mustache.” The impersonal relations could lead to the spreading of negative misconceptions. While Vargas makes an effort to interact with the students every day, few students seem to be in touch with the monitors. This invisible wall is easily torn down when students take interest. When asked what her favorite part of her job is, White said, “I like the walking because I’m very athletic so it saves me from going to the gym and the school’s really nice to work here. The kids are really nice here. There are some that don’t want to be here and you feel bad for that, that they don’t want to be in school, and it breaks your heart.”
When asked about fond impressions of hall monitors, a puzzled look grazed student’s faces. Then their guards came down. Powell said that they chatted about school, homework, and Saturday school, she expressed with a roll of her eyes.
James Call, the lead in the school play this year, said, “The really tall guy, he watched my callback for Sweeney Todd and he told me it was really good.”
The amiable stories soon outnumbered the unfavorable ones.
Powell recalls, “One time a hall monitor, it was the guy with the mustache and the glasses was subbing my personal fitness class and he danced with us.” She and her friends erupt with laughter. “It was dope.”
By Leah Parrott